This week as every week, there is so much news about the
animals - some good, some bad, and some even horrible. But
going through the e-mails, I smiled when I remembered
seeing the video of the most beautiful tyke ever - possibly 3
years old. He was videotaped in a petting farm and going to
every goat there in a ring and giving each a big bear hug.
Hopefully, this youngster is the picture of the future -children
growing up with a love and respect for God's animal creation.
I really can't say that the past or present generations have acted
in compassionate ways when it comes to the use of CAFOs and
eating meat generally. Will this little fellow grow up wanting to
eat meat which is today produced so cruelly and callously?
Somehow I think not, and especially if he reads Ruby Roth's
children's book - "Why We Don't Eat Animals." Of course, I'm
a prejudiced vegan, but I hope the book will be well received
by m illions of caring children and their parents.
Not surprisingly, the author is a 29-year-old California mother
who is raising her daughter on a completely vegan diet. It is also
not surprising that she is sparking some outrage with her book
because some readers are complaining about the g raphic images
it contains as well as what they consider it promoting an unhealthy
Unhealthy diet message? Colin Campbell of the China Study
and others of his ilk in the medical community would probably
disagree. I, for one, applaud this brave young mother for trying
to promote a healthy diet in this way, while also trying to imbue
children with compassion for all sentient life. It may not appeal to
everyone, but I believe the book will do more good than harm. I
think the litmus test of any book should be truth. And certainly one
only has to look at the world at large to see what our voracious
appetites for meat and dairy is doing to our poor farm animals.
I recently recalled on Oped the sad abandonment of 50,000 chickens
in California in February of this year. The owner obviously felt no
compunction at leaving the hens to starve when he could no longer
care for them. After two weeks without food or water, city government
decided that they should be gassed - not saved. It was only public
pressure which finally made them allow a rescue effort to begin. This
netted the rescue of 4,460 of them. Yes, a small number, but this small
number would experience something they never had in the battery
cages - freedom to move on mother earth and breathe in fresh air
and enjoy the warmth of the sun's rays on their bodies. Should not
this be the norm of a compassionate people instead of the exception?
Would you be willing to eat less eggs and chickens for this to happen?
Many of us don't even eat any eggs or chickens at all, and we don't
feel at all deprived.
I thought abandoning 50,000 chickens was bad, but in 2000 the
Ohio Buckeye Farm barns holding 1 million hens of this 11 million
hen enterprise were destroyed by a tornado. After the tornado,
Anton Pohlmann, the owner of this huge CAFO, failed to free the
the trapped chickens or provide them with food or water.
He did give permission to the animal groups AVAR (Assn.of
Veterinarians for Animal Rights), Animal Place, and others to save
as many of the chickens they could. At one internet site I saw a
picture of a young Nathan Runkle who was among the rescuers.
After this rescue episode, he would soon start his own animal
rescue group- Mercy for animals.
Five thousand chickens were rescued during this period and
these lucky hens would -like the rescued hens in California
experience for the first time the feel of earth under their feet. The
sun rays would warm their little bodies, and they could finally
breathe in fresh air. Sadly, the other 10 million hens would still live
their lives in brutal battery cage confinement in the CAFO.
Why did Ohio allow this huge CAFO to even exist? Of course,
what else -economics. I'm sorry but I feel that cruelty can never be
justified for economics or for any other reason for that matter. I
remember writing to the then Governor re this horrible CAFO. I
received no response from him.. Sadly, he, in my opinion, did not
much care about animals or their suffering at all.
This Croton, Ohio CAFO was purchased by German national Anton
Pohlmann in 1980. He quickly became known for his unsanitary
practices and also his cruelty to his chickens. German officials had
banned him from ever owning animals again in their nation because
of his treatment of animals. Finally, this man's mismanagement and
cruelty would catch up to him in Ohio - but not before millions and
millions of chickens would suffer under his ownership.
In 1999 a manure spill killed fish in a 15-mile portion of Raccoon
Creek. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency filed charges
against Pohlmann for this, but he refused to pay for the clean-up
of the spill.
In 2001 Licking County Common Pleas Court awarded twenty-one
residents near the Croton facility nineteen million dollars in damages.
Finally, in July 2003, state officials ordered Buckeye Egg Farm to
cease production of eggs. Pohlmann eventually ceased production
but not before selling his facilites to another egg producer. Not a
Now another CAFO heartbreaker. This week ABC News broke
the story of 500,000 starving pigs abandoned by a slaughtering
company in Chile. 500,000 pigs - imagine a half a million of living,
sentient beings said to be dying due to a lack of food and water.
I keep on asking myself - Is this what God meant by giving us
stewardship over the animals? Of course not. We can never c laim
to be compassionate stewards as long as even one CAFO exists.
Yes, some are worse than others, but in my opinion NONE of them
The New York Times recently held a contest asking writers to
provide an ethical argument in FAVOR of flesh consumption. In
her Alter Net post on this subject - Beatrice Marovich asks:
"......Can a meat-eating human find solid moral ground for her
more carnivorous appetites? Is there a soul-cure for the stomach
ache that comes from eating the body of another sentient creature?
..... In a culture where plates are piled high with the spoils of
profligate factory farming, it would seem that the growing surge
of vegans and vegetarians have claim to the high moral ground."
Yes, she only said "it would seem" so. She is thought-provoking,
and I hope you will take the time to find her post on the internet. It
covers a lot of ground and is worth reading. Her post is titled "Eat,
Pray, Kill: The Basic Brutality of Eating."
She names the New York Times judges chosen (all men), and notes
that 6 essays made the cut. The one with 40 percent of the vote favored
the use of in vitro "meat." In vitro meat is also known as cultured meat
and is an animal flesh product that has never been part of a complete
If this will do away with animal suffering and the CAFOs, I'm sure
it is a step forward. But I still hope that in the future the little ones
coming up and reading Ruby Roth's children's vegan book will have
an ever better "ethical" choice and that is -Go vegan!